The Laser 4.7 World Championship reached a nail-biting climax on the final day at Hermanus, near Cape Town, South Africa.
The southeasterly wind from the previous day increased in strength overnight and was blowing 20 with gusts of 25 knots as the 115 sailors, all under 19 years old, prepared to go afloat. For the lighter weight sailors they were concerned whether they could hold good overall positions in the strong winds and for the heavier sailors they were looking forward to the chance of improving their position. Their fate was temporarily decided when the Race Committee postponed the start and held the fleet ashore after measuring sustained gusts of 27 to 32 knots. Forty minutes later the wind had subsided back to its earlier range and the fleet were called afloat for some exhilarating and tough sailing.
The gold fleet, sailing first, started at their second attempt and immediately attacked the left had side of the course. In a balanced upwind leg Luciano HLANUDA
(CRO) led around the first mark closely followed by Lazaros THEODOSIADIS
(GRE), Baepi PINNA
(BRA) and a tight chasing pack. The strong winds had already turned the tables on overnight leader, Andraz GULIC
from Slovenia who struggled round in 50th place. Fellow lightweight Boris BIGNOLI
(ITA) was also buried in the late twenties.
THEODOSIADIS caught a good gust on the downwind and flew past the Croatian leaving the rest of the fleet standing. By the time he got to the top of the second windward leg he was 75 seconds ahead of Filip KOBIELSKI
(POL) who had climbed from fifth place, George KOSTOMOIROS (GRE) who had climbed from seventh and PINNA. Also now in the leader frame was overnight third placed Filip MATIKA
On the next downwind THEODOSIADIS extended further and cruised home to take the winning gun 2 minutes ahead of KOBIELSKI and KOSTOMOIRIS.
MATIKA and PINNA followed in fourth and fifth places. After ten races putting BIGNOLI and top of the leaderboard with GULIC five points behind as they were able to discard their 26th and 51st place finishes in the tenth race.
The danger to them both was clearly coming from MATIKA and PINNA if they continued to struggle in the fresh conditions. Either the Croatian or the Brazilian could take the title on the last race as only three points separated them.
Contrary to the first race the fleet took the right hand side of the course for the first leg of the second race of the day. At the first mark KOSTOMOIROS rounded first ahead of the rapidly improving Utka GONENER from Turkey and the expected pair of MATIKA and PINNA. BIGNOLI was once again in the twenties with GULIC a little better than in his previous race in the forties. After another lap of downwind and upwind the leading fourpositions were unchanged. GONENER was still only a boatlength behind KOSTOMOIROS and MATIKA was covering PINNA's every move.
After a third downwind and windward leg the there were no changes in the top three as they crossed the line. Local ace, Matthew SHAW
(RSA) had jumped a place to pass PINNA however the championship already belonged to the Croatian.
It was double celebration for the host country of the 2008 Laser 4.7 Worlds as Tajana GANIC
's scores of 29 and 25 in the mixed fleet was just enough to give her a two advantage over Ewa MAKOWSKA
from Poland and the youth women's world title.
Event Website - www.laser47worlds07.sailing.org.za
Results - click here